Milbury could name new coach by mid-May
APRIL 30, 2001
Mike Milbury last week was back on Long Island for a few days between
scouting missions to Europe. While home he took the time to interview
two finalists for the coaching vacancy -- Ted Nolan and Kevin
Constantine -- and it appears the team will be set to name a coach by
Nolan visited with Milbury on Wednesday and Thursday at the
Islanders' offices at Nassau Coliseum. Constantine arrived Thursday
night and met with Milbury on Friday.
Milbury refused comment on the candidates as he has done throughout
the search. It is believed that Bryan Murray is still very much in
the running for the job as well, but his name has surfaced in the
lead for the Blackhawks' opening.
Others who were interviewed for the Islanders job, such as Robbie
Ftorek and Jim Schoenfeld, are considered to be out of the
running. . . .
Milbury went back to Europe this week to attend the IIHF World
Championships in Germany, where current Islanders Rick DiPietro, Tim
Connolly, Mark Parrish (Team USA), Brad Isbister (Canada), Zdeno
Chara, Branislav Mezei (Slovakia) and prospect Kristofer Ottoson
(Sweden) are participating.
Milbury also has his eye on Team Canada captain Michael Peca, the
unsigned restricted free agent from Buffalo whom Milbury attempted to
acquire at the trade deadline. It is likely Milbury still will be in
hot pursuit of Peca this summer. . . .
The original plan was to name a coach by June 1, but Milbury might
move up his deadline to mid-May because of activity from two other
openings in the league at Anaheim and Chicago.
Of the three apparent finalists, Nolan seems to be the one to stand
out the most. Not only is he an intriguing hire for a desperate team,
he also appears to be the top choice of owner Charles Wang. Weeks
before former coach Butch Goring was fired during the regular season,
Wang mentioned Nolan's name at a fan forum. And during a wrap-up
session with the media before the final home game of the season, Wang
again acknowledged Nolan and expressed an appreciation for his
passion expressed in a Newsday interview.
That doesn't discount Constantine or Murray. Both are high on
Milbury's list and Constantine has the upper hand when it comes to
bringing needed structure and discipline to the organization. Murray
brings the same quality, plus deep knowledge of the league and of
prospects because he spent the past seven-plus seasons as general
manager of the Panthers. . . .
At the Worlds, which opened this weekend, several Islanders figured
on the score sheets. Connolly (USA) scored on a penalty shot and
Parrish also tallied in a 6-2 win over the Ukraine on Monday.
Isbister (Canada) netted the game-winner in a 3-1 victory over Italy.
Isbister, coincidentally enough, is skating on a line centered by
Chara had an assist as the Slovaks beat Japan, 8-4. Mezei did not
play. Ottoson scored for Sweden in a 5-2 win over Latvia.
Of the team's prospects, left winger Raffi Torres seems the most NHL-
ready and could very well earn himself a spot on next season's team.
He came close to making it this season, but was edged by Taylor Pyatt
out of training camp.
Torres lit up the OHL again this season with 33 goals and 70 points
for the Brampton Battalion. In eight postseason games, the fifth-
overall pick from 2000 netted seven goals and 11 points. For next
season, the only question is whether he'll be better off playing
another year in junior or making a go of it in the NHL. Age might be
his only enemy as the Islanders are looking to get more experienced
Red Deer Rebels (WHL) center Justin Mapletoft faces crunch time as
the draft nears because he remains unsigned. But his numbers this
season were huge. In 70 games, he led the Rebels with 43 goals and
120 points and was plus-45 with 111 penalty minutes. But if he is not
signed by the June draft, he is eligible to re-enter. The Islanders
won't likely allow that to happen, and Mapletoft, 20, should be on
the team's AHL roster in Bridgeport next season.
Center Mattias Weinhandl had a strong season for MoDo (Sweden)
despite losing former linemates Daniel and Henrik Sedin to the NHL.
Weinhandl had a respectable 16 goals and 32 points in 48 games this
season and continues to be an intriguing prospect for the Islanders.
There is some concern about the eye injury he suffered in November
1999 that has left him with just 10 percent vision in his left eye.
There is also the question of when and if he'll come to North America
to give the NHL a try.
Boston University sophomore center Brian Collins finished second in
scoring for the Terriers this season with 14 goals and 30 points in
37 games. He tied for the team lead with eight power-play goals. He
will likely remain at BU for another season.
Ottoson is playing for Team Sweden at the Worlds right now, and this
season for Djurgardens the 25-year-old right winger had 16 goals and
36 points in 40 games. Five of his goals were game-winners. He will
likely be in camp this fall.